Bastide (LA) – Redux

(Note: Bastide has closed since this review was written. Stay tuned for Ludo’s upcoming restaurant.)

Ludo – master of flavor, texture, and temperature – 3d dining. My first meal was as exciting as any i’d ever had. 3 days in LA – Urasawa, Secret Beef, and yet Bastide was the one i looked forward to most. There could be nowhere to go but up, right?

The Usual Suspects
The foie gras lollipop steal the show – light, airy foie covered in almonds and a balsamic that could be confused w/ chocolate. The mac & cheese is too cold – they should experiment w/ temperature for that one. The chicken cromesqui has nothing on Manresa’s corn version.

Deconstruction of Bloody Mary
One cold spoon, celery gelee, tomato sorbet, chilled vodka foam, one bite. The flavors burst in your mouth but it’s the slight texture differences that elevate the dish to a signature.

Bastide Ceviche
Prawns, yuzu, lime, ginger oil, fresh wasabi, and sushi rice ice cream. This was excellent – the “temperature” difference between “hot” the giner oil/wasabi and the cold ice cream danced in your mouth.

Foie Gras Terrine w/ Dried Figs & Serrano Ham
A unique take on the standard foie gras/fruit/salt variation – delicious.

White Truffle Risotto
Very creamy, maybe too creamy (?), with a few fresh shavings of white truffle. Tasty but a retreat back into normality.

Lobster w/ Chimney
I specifically requested this after reading Steve’s description of the dish. While the lobster was buttery & sweet; moreso than any lobster I remember, the accompanying elements reminded me of a bad night @ WD-50. The lobster had an orange overload – too many pieces of orange albedo – very acrid and i found it more challenging than delicious. Too bad. I think I will request it again and hope for a different preparation.

John Dory w/ Champagne Caviar Sauce & Curry Cauliflower Puree
It sounds great but this dish was not good. The cauliflower puree completely overpowered the fish, like an old classic French cream sauce. This dish belong in a retirement home.

Colorado Lamb w/ Squid Ink Gnocci
Again, sounds promising, but the ingredients & execution were flawed. The portion was huge, an abrupt end to the smaller portions we’d been eating. the lamb itself was tasteless compared to the Bouley Colorado lamb that’s still indelibly etched in my mind. The gnocci tasted good but the texture was too pasty. This was served w/ a variety of shooters of mint, yogurt, & eggplant concoctions; none were very good.

Peppermint Pattie
Palette cleanser, chocolate cookie, peppermint ice cream, ok, but not as flavorful as I’d like.

Panna Cotta w/ Caviar & Caramel
After a few disappointing dishes, this dessert stormed back onto the palette – the caviar was an absolutely genius move. It meshed perfectly w/ the caramel – the salty counterpoint. Genius.

Chocolate Soup Souffle
Not sure where the soup reference comes from, this was just an average souffle.

Sadly, this meal didn’t meet my very high expectations. The latter half of the meal didn’t follow through on the bold promise/statement made in the beginning. I will have to wait before I proclaim it the best restaurant in the US. In fact, i’d say my last meal @ Manresa was markedly superior.

That said, the service is top-notch. It’s not stuffy & “professional”; instead, it’s relaxed & effortless. Despite the food disappointments & the expectations miss, the meal was still more enjoyable than most b/c of the friendliness of the servers. They are excited about the food, they believe in their restaurant, and it shows in their impeccable service.

The Mobil 5 stars helped too – the place was packed.

I may have to travel back to LA next week for work; if so, i will try Bastide for a 3rd time.
- chuck